|Gaveshaka discusses significant events in the month of August
Colombo Academy becomes Royal College
was on August 1, 1881 that Colombo Academy, the first government-run
secondary boy's school started by the British colonial administration,
was named Royal College.
To go back to the early days, the various Christian
missionary societies began establishing schools from around 1820.
Rev. Joseph Marsh, who arrived from Madras in 1831, started a private
school "for the sons of the upper classes" after his appointment
as Chaplain of St. Paul's, Pettah. When the leading citizens of
Colombo petitioned the Governor, Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, for Government
support for the school, it was taken over and became the Colombo
Academy in January 1836 with Mr. Marsh as the Principal. The school
was intended to train local boys for lower level positions in the
administration including those of translators and interpreters.
The school moved from San Sebastian to Thurstan
Road in 1913 and when those premises were taken over for the University
College in 1923, it went into occupation of the present buildings
at Reid Avenue.
Over the years, the school developed to become
the leading public sector boys' school in Colombo. It boasts of
producing at least one President (J. R. Jayewardene) and two Prime
Ministers (Sir John Kotelawala and Ranil Wickremasinghe), in addition
to a host of politicians, professionals and academics.
Work begins on the railway
On August 3, 1858 the first sod was cut to inaugurate
the railway in this country. The first line to be constructed was
the Colombo-Kandy railway.
|Governor Ward cuts the first sod for the railway terminal
An earlier suggestion to construct a railway was
abandoned in 1847 due to the depression and a financial crisis in
England. In 1855 Governor Sir Henry Ward made a case that a railway
was "an absolute and imperative necessity" or Ceylon would
"cease to exist as a coffee producing colony" due to Brazilian
and Javanese competition. In February 1855 the planters, at a meeting
held in Kandy, suggested that the export duty on coffee be re-imposed
to finance the proposed railway.
In July 1855, the Legislative Council unanimously
agreed to the Governor's proposal that the Government should guarantee
the interest of a loan of £ 800,000 to the Ceylon Railway
Company, a private company floated in London. Work started in 1858
with Governor Ward cutting the first sod of the Colombo terminal
amidst much pomp and ceremony.
The oldest government department
The Survey Department established on August 2,
1800 is the oldest government department in Sri Lanka. It was created
by a Proclamation of Governor Frederick North. The first Surveyor-General
(head of the department), Joseph Jonville served from 1800-05.
The Department launched on a project to carry
out a topographical survey of the island by the turn of the century.
This led to the production of the 'one inch to one mile' series
of maps which covered the entire country. The project was completed
As years passed, the Department changed its programme
from surveys for land sales to surveys for land development and
alienation. Surveys for major irrigation schemes, land reforms,
Mahaweli development and 'land for the landless' were some of the
major projects under taken by the Department after Independence
Keeping pace with modern technology, the Department
is equipped to carry out aerial surveys, remote sensing, cartography
and map printing. The National Atlas produced in 1988 was just one
example of the high quality of cartography and map printing achieved
by the Survey Department.